Pink Zebra Cake

Animals galore

The other day my friend Lynda asked me if I would make a birthday cake for her daughter who was turning 3. She was going with an animal theme and had come across the idea for a zebra-striped cake – the first time I’d heard of such a thing. Needless to say I was excited to experiment and after some research on the method, I came up with a variation that I thought worked.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the way it turned out – and of course you can’t really go wrong with chocolate icing on top! (Excuse the messy cutting here, by the way. We had 10 three-year olds running around like maniacs at the time.)

Stripey cake

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Lemon, Almond and Ricotta Tartlets

Lemon, almond and ricotta tartlets

I’ve been looking for a recipe like this for a long time, after first tasting an Italian Ricotta cake made by Hmmm a few years ago. I found a few recipes which helped, especially this one by Cakelets and Doilies, which it seems she adapted from a Donna Hay recipe.

So basically this concept has been around the block a few times, and when you taste it, you’ll know why it’s so popular. It’s light and almondy, moist and crumbly, with a lemon flavour that can be subtle or quite strong, depending on how you like it. As a bonus, it’s gluten-free and if you wanted to make it sugar-free/paleo too, I imagine it would work very well if you used honey or something like xylitol instead.

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Blueberry Almond Muffins

Blueberry almond muffins

Whatever your personal opinion of the concept of Valentine’s Day, it’s a good excuse to treat yourself or someone special to something yummy! Yes sure, you could turn to chocolate but maybe you’re looking for something a bit different and healthier (unless the chocolate has a cocoa content of at least 70%, of course).

On that note, have you tried some of the new 85% up to 95% chocolate that’s appearing in the shops lately? OMG, if you truly love chocolate and don’t like it to be sugary sweet, go out and get some now! CocoáFair, Honest Chocolate, Gayleen’s, Lindt and Green and Black’s are all brands I can recommend, from a taste and an ethical perspective.

But I digress…

These blueberry almond muffins are delicious, as well as being wheat- and refined sugar-free. With a base of ground almonds, they’re sweetened by fresh blueberries and a touch of honey, and they’re so easy to make.

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Berry Pavlova (or Meringues)

Pavlova

In my personal opinion, pavlova is one of the most beautiful and delicious desserts you can serve and it’s actually not that difficult to make, although it does take a while to cook. I think it’s the combination of colours, tastes and textures that makes it such a winner – it’s crispy, creamy, sweet and tangy (especially if you use berries) and it melts in your mouth. I’m salivating just thinking about it!

I use the same recipe to make individual choc-chip meringues, simply adding chunks of chopped-up dark chocolate to the mixture. (If you’re not afraid to go OTT, you could even add chopped chocolate to the pavlova mix.) These are always a huge hit at parties, especially when served with very slightly sweetened, whipped cream. People who don’t normally even like meringues have told me that mine are the only ones they will eat. 🙂

Choc-chip meringue

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Bran Muffins

Bran muffins

My Mom originally got this recipe from a friend years ago and it was then called ’30 Day Muffins’. Since we usually ate them immediately, I’m afraid I can’t vouch for what the results would be after 30 days. To be honest, I would be very surprised if they were still edible!

Depending on who filled the muffin pans though, we did occasionally have a couple of spoons of mix left after the first batch, sometimes enough for a muffin or two a few days later (although only if the mix was well hidden at the back of the fridge). The second batch of muffins still tasted good, even if they didn’t rise as much. The trick is to keep the raw mixture in the fridge and only bake the muffins when you want to eat them.

This recipe requires a bit of forward planning as the mixture needs to sit overnight so the bran softens and it all blends together. It’s really quick to put together the evening before though, and well worth the effort for the pleasure of fresh, delicious and fairly healthy muffins the next morning.

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